‘Highly unusual:’ Investigation ongoing after person and dog attacked by pack of coyotes in southwest Edmonton

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Edmontonians are being warned after a person walking their dog was attacked by five coyotes in the city’s southwest Tuesday morning.

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Troy Courtoreille, operations coordinator for animal care and park rangers, said the pair were walking in Thibault Park in the Terwillegar area around 10 am when they came across a single coyote displaying “aggressive behavior.”

“The citizen attempted to scare the coyote away, which was unsuccessful,” Courtoreille said. “In the process of leaving, several other coyotes arrived on scene and the citizen and his dog were attacked.”

Both the dog and its owner were treated for minor injuries. It is the first time a person was attacked by multiple coyotes within city limits and is considered “highly unusual,” Courtoreille said.

“The citizen was pretty lucky in this instance — in my opinion — and obviously, it’s something that we’re going to keep a close eye on and it is concerning for us,” he said.

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He said there have been coyote-pet encounters in the past, and one minor attack on a human in 2020 and two in 2019.

The city’s investigation into Tuesday’s attack is ongoing. Park ranger peace officers attended the area with a contractor on Wednesday and two coyotes were destroyed, a third was injured, and a fourth was chased from the area.

The coyotes may have attacked because it is denning season and they are known to be hyper-aggressive to protect their pups if a dog is in the area.

“With that many adult coyotes in the area, we do believe (it’s) very likely pups were in the immediate vicinity,” Courtoreille said. “One of the other considerations we are currently following up on is that we have reports that a citizen was illegally feeding the coyotes, which would prompt them to stay in the area continuously.”

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In the case of this attack, if someone is found to have been feeding the coyotes, Courtoreille said they could be facing a mandatory court appearance. Normally, the fine is $500 for anyone caught feeding wildlife on parkland spaces.

If anyone encounters a coyote they should haze it, meaning they should make noise, blow a whistle, or even throw things at the animal in order to scare it off.

“If you see a coyote, to haze it is to save it. If the opportunity is there, and they’re not afraid of a citizen, then please consider hazing techniques,” Courtoreille said.

“The other thing we really want to emphasize is that a fed wildlife is dead wildlife. Please do not feed coyotes, it habituates them and encourages them to approach people.”

Courtoreille also noted there has been an increase in coyote complaints in recent years and it’s believed the coyote population was able to expand due to humans being indoors during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We believe our coyote population actually went from over 900 to about 1,500 within the year following COVID,” he said.

“As a result of that, we’re seeing more and more complaints about coyote sightings, and then increased incidents of coyote aggression as well.”

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